Should I use a collar or a harness?


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Are you looking for new dog walking equipment and are deciding between a collar or a harness? Here's our advice on which would be better for walking your dog.

Q) Which piece of equipment do you think is better to use when walking your dog — a flat leather collar or a harness with the lead attaching behind the dog’s shoulders? I have a Chihuahua-cross who pulls quite a lot as he gets very excited, but I have read that he could damage his trachea wearing a flat collar and that a harness would make him more controllable. What would you recommend?

A body harness is a valid piece of equipment for any dog who is likely to pull or lunge when out walking. Research has shown us that a dog of any size can damage the windpipe (trachea), throat (oesophagus), neck, or spine when the lead is connected to just the collar. A harness instantly takes the pressure off the neck and throat area. This makes daily walking less stressful on the dog’s body; therefore, a harness can help an anxious or excited dog to have a calm and beneficial walk. However, fitting a harness is not an excuse to neglect training. I still recommend teaching a dog to walk nicely on a slack lead.

Check before you buy; similar to a collar, never purchase a harness that tightens up if the dog pulls. This is a poor way of training a dog and can make the walk extremely uncomfortable. An example would be if the dog is startled and moves away from another dog. He is then made uncomfortable as he hits the end of the lead because the harness has a squeezing effect. The other dog is then associated with this unpleasant feeling.

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Advice given by dog trainer Tony Cruse.